Monday 23 October 2017

Blendle: 'iTunes of journalism' charging readers for online...or your money back

Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

A Dutch company that’s been labelled the ‘iTunes of journalism’ is convincing young readers to pay for articles online.

Blendle co-founder Alexander Klopping told a discussion at the Web Summit that 50pc of the site’s users are under 35, a demographic that is typically averse to paying for online content.

Alexander Klópping from Blendle.
Pic Steve Humphreys
Alexander Klópping from Blendle. Pic Steve Humphreys

The site collates articles from a range of different sources and requires users to pay a small sum to read articles in which they’re interested.

Read more: Live Blog: #WebSummit - All the news, views and buzz from Day One

“There’s a trend going on in journalism where more and more journalism starts going behind a paywall. You enter the Wall Street Journal links or the Financial Times links and it tells you to subscribe, and a lot of young people don’t really want to do that,” Mr Klopping said.

“It’s a real shame because we think that people actually are willing to pay if they can pay 20c, 30c per article, and just pay with one click.”

Stephen Rae, Editor in Chief at Independent News & Media in conversation at the Content Summit stage at the Web Summit at the RDS.
Pic Steve Humphreys
Stephen Rae, Editor in Chief at Independent News & Media in conversation at the Content Summit stage at the Web Summit at the RDS. Pic Steve Humphreys

The website allows users to ask for their money back after paying for an article. Mr Klopping said about 5pc of users do that. He said bigger publishers are making the most money from the platform, but added that it was a way for smaller publishers to reach a new audience.

He was joined onstage by Newsweek Europe editor Matt McAllester, who said the model was “very interesting”.

Read more: Web Summit: What the government offered us was nothing more than ‘hush money’ - Cosgrave

“It sounds like if the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal are getting younger readers…who would pay 50p for something good, then that’s reaching a new audience and for us that would be very attractive,” he said.

The discussion was moderated by Independent News & Media (INM) Group Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae. Mr Rae said INM – the publisher of this website - aims to inculcate a start-up culture in its newsroom.

He added that “what people desire and what audience consumption is all about is storytelling. That’s what I tell our young journalists all the time.

“The future is storytelling, particularly in Ireland where we have that culture of storytelling, and I think that will secure our futures to some extent”.

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